The Situation: LeadingAge Virginia is an association of not-for-profit aging services organizations that serve clients in residential and home settings, including continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), nursing homes, senior housing and other settings. The business models of most members of LeadingAge Virginia are labor intensive, and getting the right people in place is critical to business and missional success. In addition to having people with the right skills, their employees are required to provide leadership in a variety of settings as they serve residents and their families each day.
The Challenge: Melissa Andrews, the President and CEO of LeadingAge Virginia, has set up multiple groups to understand member needs and to determine how LeadingAge Virginia can help bring solutions. One of these groups, the Workforce Cabinet, focuses on the “people side” of the business. The Workforce Cabinet identified the development of the managers and leaders at their campuses as a critical need, and asked LeadingAge Virginia to help identify ways to accelerate this development.
Most of the LeadingAge members do not have significant organizational development or in-house training staffs. Additionally, the members are spread throughout the state, making it somewhat difficult to get people to a single location. On the positive side, the members are highly collaborative, and were willing to consider solutions that would serve the industry and not just their own locations.
The Solution: Andrews and Paula Ropelewski, the Manager of Education and Member services, began to search for solutions this problem. LeadSpark co-founder Susan Rucker has had significant experience in the healthcare industry and with CCRCs in particular. In a meeting with Andrews, they talked about this opportunity and brainstormed about the issue, and the LeadingAge Virginia Mid-Manager Series was born!
The series offers a combination of classroom training/experience, leadership assessment and awareness, and applied homework for on-the-job development. It also incorporates a group project. The series sessions are run once a month for five months, and have been taught to groups that include participants from multiple locations, as well as participants from a single location.
The Result: The Mid-Manger series has exceeded expectations. First and foremost, the feedback from participants has been strong. There is an in-class debrief at the end of the last session and a common refrain is “I wish there were more classes!” The participants have been active promoters of the program to their facilities. Due to the positive experiences of the participants, several LeadingAge members have had participants in the series for all three of the semesters in which it has been offered.
There have now been five cohorts of the Mid-Manager series offered over three semesters, and demand remains strong. The series has been moved to locations around the state to reduce commutes for participants, and there are plans to launch a “Level II” series in the fall of 2019 as well as to continue with the current series.
In addition to the individual benefit to the member organizations and participants, an innovative pricing structure has also helped LeadingAge Virginia generate funds that they are re-investing in new training and development initiatives for the workforce, thereby multiplying the impact of the series!
The Reaction: "Over and over we heard from our membership, we promote people who are talented but they don’t know how to manage. Thankfully, we hear less of that now because of what managers are learning in our Mid-Managers Series. This education fills a huge gap our members felt both from a supervisory perspective and a manager perspective. In addition, each cohort is building relationships with others they never would have met, so they have a built in support system moving forward when they need professional advice and counsel. The glue that makes all this work is Susan Rucker’s facilitation. Participants enjoy learning from her and being stretched by her. This series has exceeded everyone’s expectations!" - Melissa Andrews, President and CEO, LeadingAge Virginia
"Because there has been such a dearth of education for new managers in senior housing services, LeadingAge Virginia is inordinately pleased that the Mid-Manager’s program has been a great success in large part due to Susan’s wealth of knowledge and expertise, and the experience of the executives-in-residence. This program dropped into our laps at the right time and attendees from across the state who have participated become immediately engaged, finding the program to be well-organized, interesting, and with invaluable take-aways. Their individual view of their own leadership capabilities begins to solidify throughout the program, but they emerge realizing that leadership is a development process that they need to continue to nurture. Every student has appropriated significant information into their own career development plan, using the tools, information and recommendations from every session." - Paula Ropelewski, Manager, Education and Member Services, LeadingAge Virginia